TRANSCRIPT: On CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Sen. Schumer Calls For Congress To Take Big, Bold Action Address Health And Economic Crises Caused By Coronavirus Pandemic; Schumer Also Condemns Trump-GOP Plan To Dismantle Health Care Law

May 6, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tonight on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront called for a big, bold plan to address the health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic and condemned President Trump’s call to repeal the Affordable Care Act amid an ongoing health crisis. Below is a transcript of the interview:

Erin Burnett: And I want to go now to the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senator, I appreciate your time.

Sen. Schumer: Good evening, Erin.

Erin Burnett: So, you know, the numbers here are terrifying and terrible and something we never would have thought we would see, and yet we are now seeing predictions of well over 20 million job losses in Friday’s jobs report. 20 million people. And the White House Economic Adviser, Kevin Hassett, says this is going to be the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. So we're going to go from one of the best rates to the worst in weeks. I know you've been speaking to Speaker Pelosi. What are you planning to do about this?

Sen. Schumer: Well, we need a big, bold answer to this. I am just appalled that Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and the president himself say let wait back and see what's happening, maybe we don't have to do anything. We have the biggest economic and health crisis we have had in decades, as you have mentioned. We need big, bold action and we need it soon. We need action to help those who are unemployed deal with their lives and not lose everything; their homes; their ability to feed their kids; their ability to get health care. We need to make sure that small businesses get the help that they need. We need our state and local governments, which are our firefighters and our police officers and our bus drivers, we need them not to be laid off. And our Republican friends seem to be twiddling their thumbs. And one more thing Erin. Tonight, amazingly enough, the president said that he and the Republican party are sticking with repealing the ACA—

Erin Burnett: The Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Schumer: The Affordable Care Act. We have millions of people losing their health care. We have so many people who have pre-existing conditions who need help, and they say get rid of all that in the midst of a crisis. How tone deaf can they be? How removed from the statistics you're mentioning can they be? And each statistic represents a personal heartbreak for somebody. How can they do this? I am just utterly amazed. They stick to this right-wing ideology which helps a few very well-to-do people and say to the rest of America, let's fiddle? Which is what they're doing while America is in many ways burning.

Erin Burnett: You know, you’ve said as part of this big and bold plan you want to hope states and local governments. And to be honest the states will go bankrupt without it—that is the reality. The former White House Economic Advisor Gary Cohn recently told me he believed large amounts of borrowing and spending was creating a long-term problem that could turn into the next crisis. Right? Right now, it’s no problem to borrow all this money, but you've already got $3 trillion on the tab. That's bigger and bolder than any of us could have ever imagined you’d go.

Sen. Schumer: This was the Gary Cohn who led a $2 trillion tax cut that mainly went to the wealthy and the high-income people. The bottom line is very simple. This crisis is horrible. It is so bad that if we don't take big, bold action, our deficit will be worse. There will be fewer people paying taxes. There will be fewer people contributing to the national wealth. And it will be worse. We don't have the kind of situation where we can sit back and say let things unfold as they are without actually possibly moving into a depression. Some of the biggest economists, smartest economists, say if we do nothing, nothing we’ll have a depression. Yet that's what Trump, McCarthy, and McConnell seem to be saying.

Erin Burnett: Yet I guess the question to you is $3 trillion that has already been allocated—and that is a lot of money—it is a hugely insane amount of money. And I understand you want to go big and bold, but that is big and bold. So how much more? Are you doubling that? Tripling that? Do you have a sense of the amount of money that you think this is worth?

Sen. Schumer: We need to look at the problems and solve them. That's what we need to do. And that is the number one goal that should happen for the good of health care, for the good of the economy. We don't spend active money on testing in our hospitals. You've seen that there are hot spots popping up all over the place right now. What will be the result there? More people will lose their jobs. More people will not want to go out. More businesses will fold. This is a crisis. This is not, simply, you take out a page out of a conservative playbook, conservative economics handbook of 2017. This is new. Adapt to the times. Let me say something. When we had the Great Depression, there were people who said let's sit and do nothing.

Erin Burnett: Yes, there were.

Sen. Schumer: They didn't go down in history very well. Franklin Roosevelt did.

Erin Burnett: You're back in Washington this week, Senator. People can see where you are.

Sen. Schumer: Yes.

Erin Burnett: And we've seen many Senators wearing masks—Senators Burr and Warner at a hearing—others when walking through the halls, but not all of them. One of the few not wearing a mask is Republican Senator Rand Paul. You can see him there standing with Mike Lee. Mike Lee is wearing a mask. Senator Paul says he already got coronavirus, and, you know, so he can't get sick again. Obviously, we don't know if that's true or not. But should he be wearing the mask?

Sen. Schumer: I think that the Senators should set the right example. All the medical advisers tell us we should wear masks. I don't wear the mask when I do an interview, but I wear it all the rest of the time and so should everybody else.

Erin Burnett: Right. Well, right. And I wear one in and out of here, too. Of course, obviously if you’re socially distanced so I understand the point you’re making. Alright well, Senator I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

Sen. Schumer: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.